Sunday, May 10, 2009

Western/Central NY ACP 200K

Saturday I rode for the first time with the Western NY series organized by Peter Dusel. Fortunately Pete's wife Sandy was there to sign me in as I was late at the start. One is allowed to start up to one hour late. However, the contrôle opening/closing times as well as the total time limit are not altered. I ended up starting alone at 7:20am. I set the goal to try to join the lead riders. The attempt was unsuccessful, as there was no way I could catch Wayne Panepinto, who finished the 127 mile ride with 6,600 ft of climbing and strong headwind in 7h31min. In the attempt I suffered again with cramps at mile 100, and this time I had to stop. In the end I finished with a personal best of 8h15min and managed to meet several riders along the way. Next time I'll meet Wayne, at the start!

My alarm clock went off at 4am and I woke up at 4:50am. It was a good thing I had everything set up for the ride, but I did not have enough time to make it to the start in time. I was close, arriving just as the other cyclists left at 7am. RBA Peter Dusel stopped to give last minute instructions. His wife Sandy signed my brevet card as I left the Dusel home at 7:20am.

The first miles were a bit strenuous. I was actually planning on a moderate pace with a lot of chat with new riders. At around mile 3 I caught up with two riders that were going out for a training ride. A pickup stopped ahead of us and someone jumped out, opening the door in a rather abrupt manner. We had to swerve in order to avoid it. As I passed the driver I heard something like rando... It turns out he was late for the ride as well and could not find the entrance to the Dusel home. I gave him instructions and moved on, hoping to latch on the training guys for a free ride. They may have sensed my intention, as they made a left turn just as I caught them. Oh well.

The first contrôle was at mile 10. It was an info contrôle. We were asked to write down the information on one of the "Adopt-a-highway" signs. Isn't randonneuring cool? I checked my time and wrote down the info on the sign. Time to move on.

The road conditions were excellent throughout the entire ride and I appreciated that very much. Initially I thought there would be lots of traffic on some of the roads, but that was not the case. I was on Planck road for 8.5 miles. A good way to make time would be to ride in my drops, so I did. I put my head down and followed the white line, looking ahead once in a while. Since the road was in such good condition, I really did not have to worry too much about potholes. I find this riding position quite comfortable, as long as I have my head down.

My next cue was a right turn on Schoolhouse Rd, on top of a small hill. There I met up with Peter Dusel, former RBA Jennifer Barber and some other riders as well, 23.6 miles into the ride. I spent some time chatting with them and also used the opportunity to apply sunscreen as I rode along with the group. The sun was peaking through the numerous clouds on this day with several thunderstorms in the forecast. I asked Peter how many riders were ahead of the group and he said three. He also informed me that among them was Wayne, who would probably finish in 7 hours or so. I thought I should get going if I intended to meet up with any of them. So I left Peter's group 4 miles after the encounter on Schoolhouse Rd.

My determination to catch up with the lead riders did not stop me from taking pictures, however. The crossing of the Erie canal required a stop. The single lane steel bridge was still wide enough for a car plus a cyclist. This reminds me of the perfect automobile according to the late Ken Kifer. In response to the question "Am I anti-car?," he points out their importance to the old and physically handicapped and then goes on to describe the ideal automobile, which turns out to be a bicycle. You can read it here (scroll down or just read all the newsletter shorts).

I was back in the drops for another 15 miles. Then I saw a cyclist in the distance. I patiently waited, assuming that if I maintained my pace I would eventually catch him. It turns out David Thompson is also signed up for the Shenandoah 1200K in June. The other coincidence is that he has ridden Rick Carpenter's Schuykill to Susquehanna permanent. Rick rides the PA brevet series and I was on his fléche team in April. I find that Dave has a pace similar to mine, in normal conditions. But on this day I was very hyped by the effort to catch the lead riders. I learned from him that a guy he was riding with had made a stop a few miles back. He asked me if I saw him, which I didn't. He also mentioned there were two riders ahead of him. This information did not jive with what Peter told me. Hum.. three our four riders?

As I reached the town center in Canandaigua, location of the next contrôle, I noticed that there was a mention of KFC on the cue sheet. Initially I thought it was the contrôle, but in fact it was a cue to bear left at KFC. On the previous day I had thought it was not a good idea to have fried chicken on a brevet, but I hear they now serve grilled as well. In any case, there is no longer a KFC in Canandaigua. In this brevet, the contrôle was of your choice! I figured this out at the gas station Bill Fischer, Jamie Gartenberg and I stopped at during our unofficial "Canandaigua 300K" back in March. I got on my bike to find Dave and tell him just as he was passing the gas station. I had to chase him for a bit since he did not hear me. We turned around and he alerted me to a spoke that was falling from my brand new Carradice Barley saddle bag. I said I would take care of it at the gas station. Suddenly Dave was gone. He actually stopped to pick up the spoke that had fallen to the ground. At the gas station we shared a gallon of water and I also had a dose of Starbucks Vanilla Doubleshot. Yum! Outside we both mixed out powder concoctions with water. I told Dave I had to take care of some stuff in the bathroom and that I would catch up later.

After about 10 min I was back in the chase. It is amazing how far one can get in 10 min. On this section the headwind was particularly fierce. On my first ride around Canandaigua I rode along the shoreline. This time Peter chose Middle Rd, which runs parallel to the lake shore, but on higher ground. The view is really amazing, but I still prefer the shoreline. I joined SR 245 towards Naples and still no sign of Dave. Finally, after 15 miles I caught up with him. This time I did not stick around and moved on towards Naples.

There was a restaurant conveniently located at the same corner of our next cue, Bob & Ruth's Vineyard Restaurant. As I crossed the road to enter the restaurant's parking lot two cyclists rode by. They were carrying more gear than typical for a training ride, so I assumed they were the lead group. Bob & Ruth's seemed like a great lunch stop, but the ensuing 8.5 mile climb would be a serious obstacle to deal with on a full stomach. I happily opened my Barley saddle bag and pulled out a PB&J sandwich instead. I also bought some water to mix up more of my concoctions. I found out that the woman at the register was an FLCC member, or at least that it was I understood. Dave joined me at the contrôle and we left together.

The climb started on CR12 and went by the overlook used as a contrôle in the Quadzilla. But then there is more climbing as you make a left on Powel Hill Rd. This is followed by a right on S Gannett Hill Road which takes you to Ontario County Park, the top of the climb at 2,200 ft and location of an info contrôle. It was necessary to follow a gravel path to an overlook where we had to write down the number of benches that were there. I took a picture of the benches just in case. I forgot to take a picture of the view! How stupid is that! A good reason to do the climb again. If the overlook isn't a good reason to climb, maybe the descent on W Gannett Hill is. I reached 57.7 mph on both my odometers. That was pretty scary.

I was now heading back to the start on SR 64. The gentle downhill and lack of wind were welcomed. On this stretch I saw several cyclists riding in the opposite direction and no one riding where I was going. About 10 miles after turning on SR 64 I felt a pull in my right Sartorius (looked it up). For a moment I thought I might have injured it, but then I felt the same thing on my left leg. Cramp attack! This one was bad. I could not pedal. I massaged the muscle and shifted to a lower gear. The cramp subsided until I hit the next roller. Then it came back with vengeance. I found that I could still climb standing, but not in the saddle. I was lucky to find a convenience store on the intersection of SR 64 and US 20. I bought salted pretzels and Gatorade and hopped back on the bike as I tried to replenish my electrolytes. Every time I increased the pace I was held back by my cramps. Eventually I was able to speed up.

The tailwind I was hoping for had now turned into a vicious cross wind bringing several thunderstorms along with it. The cool thing is that even though you appear to be close, it might not even rain on you at all. This was the case for most of them. I felt the first raindrops on Yerkes Rd. I stopped and put on my rain jacket. By the way, I was always happy to stop and pull things out of the Barley, such a nice bag. Once I got back on the road it stopped raining. Great!

The next cue indicated a left turn on CR 8. This road would take me almost back to the start. For the first time, with 25 miles left, I decided to check my time to see what the ballpark finishing time would be. Once I noted that there was a good chance I could finish the ride well under 9h I pushed harder on the pedals. At the same time I could observe a nasty storm approaching from the West. It brought strong gushes of wind and lots of rain. I made another stop to put on my rain booties. They helped, but just for a while. I have not yet found a solution that will keep my feet dry. This is probably because my fenders are not large enough. I could see the water coming off the front wheel fender being blown on my right foot by the wind.

I rode through the thunderstorm into the sunshine. 8 miles left! The hope of catching the lead rider remained alive until I rode into the driveway of Peter Dusel's home and noticed that at least one car was no longer there. I knocked on the door, but Sandy was not home. So I wrote in my arrival time and put my brevet card next to Wayne's. I couldn't help the curiosity and took a peak at his card. He came in at 2:21pm. I came in at 3:35pm, but started 20 min after him. Wow! Even if I did not suffer with cramps and had blown by every rider I found along the way there was no way I would have matched that time. I do however think that a sub 8h would be feasible, although I am not sure I want to do that again.

While I was prepping for my drive back home Peter's wife Sandy arrived. We chatted for a while about cycling and their wonderful home on Lake Ontario. I even took some pictures. On my way out of the driveway I greeted Dave who was arriving. According to my math, there is a rider who stopped along the way or didn't leave his/her brevet card at the finish. By the time I got home it was 6pm, just over 12.5h since I left. That was nice for a change.

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